Do not quit! Don’t you dare stop writing, carving, knitting, filming… just because it seems like nothing is happening. You’re writing a novel, not making cupcakes. You can’t expect a result in 23 minutes.
One of the greatest difficulties we have as human beings is to keep on a course of action even though it seems like nothing is happening. We want results. We want a response from the world. We want recognition and appreciation. We want it NOW! Dammit!!
It goes for everything we do whether we’re on a diet (it might have taken me 44 years to put on all my weight, what’s wrong with me wanting it gone in a month?) or building up a social network (I’m ready to talk now… I demand you listen!) to getting published (my genius is complete. Love me now!)
The truth is, even though you might have finally found your stride, the rest of the word needs time to decide to join you on your walk. If you quit, you’ll never know what’s at the end of the path. So keep going even if you think nothing is happening.
So you’re writing a novel. Feels like you’re in a vacuum. How long do you go on for?
Depends what your motives are.
If you’re doing what you’re doing to make guaranteed money fast, then no results for months and years doesn’t make sense. If you’re creating art, however, where there are no guarantees, then your motives need to be such that it doesn’t matter that you don’t see a result immediately. You’re writing, carving, knitting or filming for the sake of it. If the world never sees it, the fact that you’ve done it and just you and your cat love it, might be enough.
So to go Zen for a moment…
The world is connected in ways we’ll never fully comprehend. For as long as you keep going, the rest of the universe can do it’s thing. If you stop, everything the world has in mind for you will just pass you by because you won’t be ready. So keep going. Know with certainty that even though it seems like nothing is happening, the world is working for you.
When you really want to quit, what can you do?
ONE: Turn to someone who won’t let you. Any time I trot out my drama queen lines: “I can’t do it! Enough! Swoon!!” My husband tells me not to be an idiot and to get back to it.
TWO: Take a complete weekend off your main project, the one you think you’re getting no results from. Instead, do something quicker, easier, shorter. If you’re writing a novel, take a couple of days away from it and write a few short stories instead. If you’re sculpting a herd of life sized elephants, take time out and whittle out a bumble bee. Do something you can finish.
THREE: Take some time to work out what your motives are. What’s driving you? Are you writing your novel to make a lot of money fast? Or are you writing to eventually become the best writer you can be? Be really clear why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’ll help reconcile any frustrations you might be feeling about how long it takes to get the result you want.
Above all, be good to yourself. It’s good practice for being good to others…